With sorrowful silence and fearfulness of utterance we approach the deepest darkness. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” These words reveal a mystery, and represent in mystery a revelation. To them we turn for a theory of the Atonement, only to discover that theorizing is impossible. Alone in the supreme hour in the history of the race, Christ uttered these words, and in them light breaks out, and yet merges, not into darkness, but into light so blinding that no eye can bear to gaze. The words are recorded, not to finally reveal, but to reveal so much as it is possible for men to know, and to set a limit at the point where men may never know. The words were uttered that men may know, and that men may know how much there is that may not be known.
In that strange cry that broke from the lips of the Master there are at least three things perfectly clear. Let them be named and considered. It is the cry of One Who has reached the final issue of sin. It is the cry of One Who has understood the deepest depth of sorrow. It is the cry of One Himself overwhelmed in the mystery of silence. Sin, sorrow, silence. Sin at its final issue, sorrow at its deepest depth, silence the unexplainable mystery of agony, and agony of mystery. These are the facts suggested by the actual words. In that order let them be pondered reverently.
Sin is alienation from God by choice. Hell is the utter realization of that chosen alienation. Sin therefore at last is the consciousness of the lack of God, and that God-forsaken condition is the penalty of the sin which forsakes God. Now listen solemnly, and from that Cross hear the cry, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” That is hell. No other human being has ever been God-forsaken in this life. Man by his own act alienated himself from God, but God never left him. He brooded over him with infinite patience and pity, and took man back to His heart at the moment of the fall, in virtue of that mystery of Calvary which lay within the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, long before its outworking in the history of the race.